Checking off bucket-list destinations and experiences has become old-school, and it’s just not enough these days to see the site and tick the box. I read more and more about the idea of traveling with a purpose and treading lightly on over-touristed cities and historical sites. I believe as your travel advisor that it is my duty to inform you of opportunities in destinations and with certain companies so you may travel responsibly.
Recently the ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) publication ran an article by Jillian Dara titled “Travel With a Purpose”. it prompts the reader to design more meaningful itineraries that better connect the traveler with local cultures. And isn’t that the most wonderful thing about travel? Meeting locals and understanding and appreciating all the things that make the culture unique and interesting?
I love this quote:
“Purposeful travel is travel that takes into consideration the impact we make with the money we spend and the actions we take within the communities we visit. If our goal in life is to make this place better for those who come after us, then that same purpose should extend to our travels. Purposeful travel is an exchange that creates a positive transformation for both participants and improves ourselves as well as the people and ecosystems we visit.” — David Leventahl, Regenerative Resorts
Accommodation: Choosing those with Core Values
Some of the companies that are leading the way in eco-friendly and community involvement include Regenerative Resorts, 1hotels, Blue Waters in Antigua, and Six Senses Duoro Valley. We can look for properties that are lessening their environmental impact and are supporting local charities and giving back to their communities.
An example given by Jillian in the article is Regenerative Resorts’ Hamanasi, “which supports local fishermen by educating guests on the effects of the invasive lionfish species. By financially supporting the humane society of Belize, guests are investing in bettering the broader community simply by staying at the property.”
My good partners G Adventures and Intrepid Travel are examples of tour companies who follow these core values. On my Inca Trail hike with G we will be visiting local markets and local restaurants, thus supporting the indigenous economy. Each of these also have their Eco-friendly lodging options, as well as charity divisions that benefit from each booking made.
&Beyond has a new 7 day Phinda Impact Story Small Group Journey. You will experience the daily work of a national park ranger and learn about the Zulu culture in an African community. The website describes it as a “rare and priceless gift”.
Intention: The Goal is to Understand Our Ability to Leave a Positive Impact
Many of the airlines are offering you a chance to donate money to help offset our carbon footprint from air travel. Planting renewable resources is one way. I learned a little more in a recent National Geographic article about the science of storing carbon dioxide underneath the earth’s surface. It’s not only possible, but I think it’s a brilliant technology that we should all invest in! (They are working on it…I will leave that to the geologists and scientists!)
It is no secret that many of our most fascinating destinations are being over-touristed. Venice has implemented a visitor’s permit to help pay for keeping the city beautiful for our children and grandchildren. Will it deter someone from visiting? Probably not, but it will help the city government to pay for the mess that the throngs leave behind. And perhaps it will help them police those who are operating tours illegally, thus impacting numbers so the city may be enjoyed in the future.
Above all, I believe the key to traveling responsibly is to have kind and intentional interaction with local people to understand the problems (and the joys!) they face in everyday life. If we are to visit their beautiful cities and villages, it is up to us to make sure that we leave their home in better condition than we found it. Let’s learn what is needed to maintain the local culture. Let’s celebrate with each other our differences along with our similar human traits. Let us respect each other while protecting our people, our animals, and our earth to the very best of our ability.
Let us travel with a purpose and with love in our hearts.